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Nov 4, 2012

Di Matteo turns focus to Europe

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo has admitted that Wednesday's Champions League tie with Shakhtar Donetsk is the club's biggest since last season's final.

• Swansea 1-1 Chelsea

Di Matteo has turned his attention to the midweek fixture following Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Swansea on Saturday, acknowledging that anything less than three points against Shakhtar could make his side the first ever Champions League winner to fail to progress from the group stage in their title defence

"I think it's fair to say [that we must win]," Di Matteo said. "We need to win both home games, for sure, and maybe get something from Turin [against Juventus] as well."

Chelsea were outplayed by Shakhtar on matchday three, sparking doubts over whether they could turn the result around against opponents who are in top form.

Di Matteo compared Chelsea's last European outing to his first Champions League match in charge against Napoli which saw the Blues overturn a two-goal first leg deficit to qualify for last season's quarter finals.

"At Stamford Bridge, it'll be a different game," he said. "Because, obviously, we are very strong at home and it'll be different. Certainly, the early goal we conceded was a big factor, especially for them, because it allowed them to then play on the counter-attack, rather than have to maybe be a little bit offensive. We'll have to produce a special night, on Wednesday, for sure."

Chelsea will be boosted by the return of captain John Terry from suspension and Di Matteo concedes his side have missed the defender.

"He's still a fantastic defender and he's very influential when he plays, and he's used to those kinds of games as well, big pressure games and big European nights," Di Matteo said. "Certainly, he marks his influence on the pitch and on the opposition.

"We have a good dressing room in the sense that we have a few people that are influential and they're used to these kinds of pressure games and can peform under it well. JT is one but we've got others as well, like Petr Cech and others that are now coming through."

But Di Matteo is under no illusions about the task his side face, with Shakhtar not having tasted defeat in almost a year.

"We looked at Shakhtar and we knew that they were a very strong side," he said. "They went to Turin and played with a lot of confidence and ambition there, so there was no underestimating the opposition.

"They're a very good team, they're a quick team, they have some quality, individual players that can really decide a game on their own and they've been together for many years as well. The bulk of the team has been together for many years, so they're used to playing with each other, and in certain ways, and that certainly helps them."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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